Nuns keep their bus momentum rolling, speak out for Medicaid expansion

November 24, 2013, 10:59 am | Posted by
David Yonke, Toledo Faith & Values
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Faith in Public Life helped to organize the letter and led press outreach.

The “Nuns on the Bus” campaign was such a success that many Ohio Catholic sisters want to keep the bus rolling — in spirit, if not in body.

More than 100 nuns across Ohio, including 25 from the Toledo area, have signed a statement expressing their support for state expansion of Medicaid coverage.

“The Nuns on the Bus came through a year ago and because there’s momentum, the sisters decided to get together again,” said Sister Geraldine Nowak of the Sylvania Franciscans.

Last year’s bus trip across Ohio by the nuns included stops at soup kitchens, homeless shelters, urban outreach centers and other places where the state’s neediest are getting help, including the Assumption Outreach Center near downtown Toledo.

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Activists to fast on Capitol Hill until Congress passes immigration reform

November 12, 2013, 11:16 am | Posted by
Katherine Burgess, Religion News Service
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Faith in Public Life helped to lead communications and media outreach efforts for the fast. 

As an icy wind whipped the sides of a packed tent, five activists committed themselves Tuesday (Nov. 12) to fast from food and drink and to camp in front of the U.S. Capitol until Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform.“I know that there are going to be difficult days ahead of me,” said Eliseo Medina from the Service Employees International Union. “I know that going without food will not be easy and I know that I will suffer physical hunger.

“But there is a deeper hunger within me, a hunger for an end to a system that creates such misery among those who come here to escape poverty and violence in search of the American dream.”Religious and labor leaders joined immigration activists at the launch of the “Fast for Families: A Call for Immigration Reform and Citizenship.” Many will participate as “solidarity fasters,” fasting for a shorter time.

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47 Catholic leaders urge bishops to support CCHD’s anti-poverty work

November 11, 2013, 11:13 am | Posted by
Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service
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Faith in Public Life helped to organize the letter to the Bishops. 

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development deserves the full support of the U.S. bishops because of its success in fighting poverty, said a group of Catholics on the eve of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ fall general assembly Nov. 11-14 in Baltimore. In a letter addressed to all of the bishops, 47 Catholic leaders, including three retired bishops and former USCCB staff members, urged the prelates to “redouble your commitment to social ministries that lift people out of poverty,” especially CCHD.

It was prompted by continuing criticisms of CCHD, the bishops’ domestic anti-poverty arm, from a small number of organizations that claim local anti-poverty agencies funded by the program have worked in coalitions that include members that do not share church teaching on issues, such as its opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. The letter was the result of a joint effort among the letter writers and Faith in Public Life, which bills itself as “a strategy center for the faith community advancing faith in the public square as a powerful force for justice, compassion and the common good.” In June, Faith in Public Life issued a report charging CCHD’s opponents with undertaking a “witch hunt.” It accused groups such as the American Life League and the Reform CCHD Now Coalition of “creating a culture of fear around community organizing,” based on interviews with community development experts, nonprofit directors and national philanthropic leaders.

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U.S. bishops to select leaders as Pope urges new focus

November 10, 2013, 11:16 am | Posted by
Mary Wisniewski, Reuters
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Faith in Public Life Catholic Program Director John Gehring was interviewed about the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual meeting. 

“Bishops have been stuck in a bunker fighting the culture war,” said John Gehring, who was once in the conference’s communications office and is now Catholic program director for Faith in Public Life, a liberal advocacy group. “Pope Francis has said we can’t just be known by what we oppose.

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As Catholic Bishops Meet, Culture Wars Trump Poverty

November 7, 2013, 11:02 am | Posted by
John Gehring, Time
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FPL Catholic Program Director John Gehring published an op-ed in Time Magazine ahead of the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

More than 300 Catholic bishops will convene next Monday for a national meeting to elect a new president of their conference. While the new Pope has made a remarkable start advocating for a “church for the poor” and has warned against a fixation on a few hot-button issues, the bishops’ agenda in Baltimore reads as a primer in why the Catholic hierarchy in the United States risks losing its once powerful social justice voice. The bishops will vote on a statement about pornography, but the decline of living wage jobs, attacks on workers’ rights and growing threats to the environment—all moral issues addressed by traditional Catholic teaching—will not be up for discussion. The bishops will make time to hear a report about their advocacy efforts to oppose same-sex marriage, which an increasing number of Americans and most Catholics now support, but no reports are planned about income inequality or persistent unemployment. If the bishops left their hotel in Baltimore – where nearly 1 in 4 people live in poverty – they could follow Pope Francis’ lead during his visit to a favela in Brazil, where he listened to the stories of real people and challenged government leaders to address systemic injustice and growing inequality. But there are no indications that the bishops will scrap their formal agenda.

Their diminished voice on social justice stands in stark contrast to a time when bishops were at the forefront of debates over the role of government, the economy and war. During the Cold War, a Time magazine story about the nuclear arms race – “The Bishops vs. The Bomb” – was emblematic of a time when Catholic leaders drew public attention for a broader “pro-life” ethic beyond abortion. In 1986, U.S. bishops released “Economic Justice for All,” a national pastoral letter that offered a departure from Reagan-era “trickle down” economic theories, anti-government ideology and blind faith in free-market orthodoxy.


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